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Free-agent Flyers could be on the move

Backup goaltender Martin Jones is a pending unrestricted free agent and could be moved before the NHL trade deadline. Photo/Mark Zimmaro

As the March 21 National Hockey League trade deadline inches another week closer, you might be sick of hearing if and where Flyers captain Claude Giroux will be traded. 

Giroux is certainly drawing interest from other teams if the pending unrestricted free agent decides to waive his no-movement clause, but there are several other Flyers who could also be on their way out the door in a few weeks.

Here’s a quick peek at nine other players who are pending UFAs whom Flyers General Manager Chuck Fletcher may consider moving.

Derick Brassard: He’s struggled to stay in the lineup and he won’t fetch much as far as a return, but Brassard could provide some center depth to a contending team that is weak down the middle. On the plus side, he’s a former sixth-overall pick (2006) and he’s produced 11 points in 20 games this season. His $825,000 cap hit is enticing for teams that are scratching the ceiling.

Justin Braun: He’s turned out to be a pretty dependable defender at age 35 and the Flyers might actually consider extending him another year, as you need good character veterans in the lineup even during a rebuild. A $1.8 million cap hit isn’t bad for a third pairing guy who can play on the top pair in a pinch. Tough to imagine he gets more than a second- or third-round pick in return, though.

Kevin Connauton: He’s been mostly a healthy scratch over the last three years in Colorado, Florida and Philly. He’d be available on the cheap and he makes less than a million bucks against the salary cap. Tough to imagine there’s a long line of suitors, though.

Martin Jones: The goalie market is always an interesting one at trade deadline and usually is determined on injuries to the buying teams. Jones’ save percentage has taken a dip of late and he’s on the wrong side of .900 heading into the back-to-back with Carolina and St. Louis. Backups rarely get starts in the postseason so anyone willing to take Jones and his $2 million contract are just looking for a slight upgrade at backup in case of injury to their starter.

Gerry Mayhew: How to anger a fanbase 101. Mayhew has been one of the rare good stories of the 2021-22 season in Philadelphia. The 29-year-old Michigan native has spent the majority of his career in the American Hockey League but has been a badly needed spark plug for the Flyers, scoring five goals in his first 15 games. Fans would probably like to see him back next year on the fourth line on a veteran minimum contract, but Fletcher is probably looking to trade anything that’s not tied down at this point.

Rasmus Ristolainen: The fan base seems split on whether Ristolainen is actually a good hockey player or not. The cost to keep him will be high and the term could be long and it’s probably not what a rebuilding team should be thinking about doing. The Flyers could eat half his remaining salary, which would increase the return on a potential trade for the big Finn. Teams love toughness for the playoffs and Ristolainen at a half-off sale of a $2.7 million cap hit could possibly score a late first-round pick from a team that’s all in. Edmonton and Toronto seek toughness. And maybe a fringe team like Nashville or Los Angeles is looking for a spark.

Nick Seeler: To win the Stanley Cup, it’s said you need to be about eight capable defensemen deep on your roster. There’s nothing flashy about Seeler but he could be sought as a fill-in for a playoff run as the seventh or eighth guy down the list. We’re talking late draft pick in return here.

Nate Thompson: The Flyers actually brought Thompson in at the deadline in 2020 for a fifth-round pick to provide center depth. He’d have to get healthy first, as he’s been out with a shoulder injury for a few months. It’s doubtful his trade value has increased since then but the Flyers would likely take whatever they could get.

Keith Yandle: Like Giroux, he has trade protection that would have to be waived. He’s almost certainly not coming back to Philadelphia next season after a tough year, so would he be willing to go to a contender? There might be a team looking for some power play help. Los Angeles, Tampa Bay, Vegas and Washington were all in the bottom half of the league in power play percentage through the weekend.

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